Monday, August 22, 2016

Upcoming Conference on Manuscript Forgeries in Kristiansand


On 14-16 September I will participate in a conference at the University of Agder in Kristiansand (Norway), Fragments of an Unbelievable Past? Constructions of Provenance, Narratives of Forgery – conference schedule below (not including coffee and meals).

I will present a paper on the famous 19th-century forgerer Constantine Simonides: “Simonides’ New Testament Papyri: Their Production and Purported Provenance.” Since the Friday is devoted to the Gospel of Jesus Wife saga, including the concluding conversation between Prof. Liv Ingeborg Lied (MF, Oslo) and Ariel Sabar about his his recent Atlantic Magazine investigation, I will also attempt to draw some parallels between Simonides and Walter Fritz – the owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife fragment (for our earlier post on Fritz, see here). I look forward to the conference very much.

Conference Schedule


Open lecture at Myren Gård:

18:00– Nina Burleigh (Newsweek), “Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land”

Thursday (A7–006)

9:00 – 9:15 Årstein Justnes (University of Agder), “[An Unbelievable] Introduction”

Session I, chair: Årstein Justnes (University of Agder)

9:15 – 10:15 Nina Burleigh (Newsweek), “The Post-Factual Museum: Curating Ancient History to Influence Politics 101”

10:30 – 11:30 Roberta Mazza (University of Manchester), “Papyrology and Ethics: The Problem of Provenance”

11:30 – 12:30 Nils Hallvard Korsvoll (MF Norwegian School of Theology), “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: How Is Authenticity Dealt with When Provenance Is Not an Issue?”

Session II, chair: Tor Vegge (University of Agder)

13:15 – 14:15 Nicola Denzey Lewis (Brown University), “Rethinking the Origins of the Nag Hammadi Library”

14:15 – 15:15 Eva Mroczek (University of California, Davis), “The Secret Lives of Texts: The Discovery Narrative as a Literary and Theological Tradition”

15:45 – 16:30 Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College), to be announced

16:30 – 17:30 Kipp Davis (Trinity Western University), “Gleanings from the Cave of Wonders? Patterns of Correspondence in the Post-2002 DSS Fragments”

Friday (A7-006)

Session III, chair: Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College)

9:00 – 10:00 Liv Ingeborg Lied (MF Norwegian School of Theology), “Media Dynamics and Academic Knowledge Production: Tracing the Role of the Media in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Saga”

10:00 – 11:00 Tommy Wasserman (Örebro School of Theology & Ansgar School of Theology), “Simonides’ New Testament Papyri: Their Production and Purported Provenance”

University Library, 2nd floor

11:30 – 13:00 “The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife”: A conversation between journalist Ariel Sabar and professor Liv Ingeborg Lied about his Atlantic Magazine investigation into the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife

See more about the conference on the blog of the organizers, The Lying Pen of Scribes.


  1. I see that one of the speakers also has an article on whether the unprovenanced Gabriel Vision text inked on stone is a forgery.

  2. Yes, that speaker, Prof. Årstein Justnes, is also the local organizer. The conference is affiliated to a research group which has submitted a major application for a project on manuscript forgeries ("The Lying Pen of Scribes"). If the application is successful, there will be more conferences and research production in the years to come. Personally, I am on the advisory board of the proposed project, and I also hope to write a bit on Simonides, but there are a lot of things I want to write about for the moment ...

  3. Perhaps some tangential questions could be explored:
    (a) Who decided to use 2427 in NA27?
    (b) Why not put to rest the conspiracy theories about Sinaiticus by simply carbon-dating a few bits of its parchment? It's not as if anyone is likely to be burnt in effigy if a bit of the margin from the last page of Tobit disappears tomorrow.

  4. There is no serious person who doubts the authenticity of Sinaiticus so you probably won't be hearing of such a paper at a scholarly conference.

  5. Wait, there's conspiracy theories about sinaiticus!?! Good grief, what's next? I think i'm going to write a paper that argues that Peter Head is not a real person. He's just a forgery, the collective work of a group of disgruntled grad students who meet and co-ordinate their efforts everyday during their morning speed-walking sessions. I mean, consider this: the name "Peter" is clearly taken from the most famous Peter, that would be the disciple Peter, first pope of the church. But what is a pope but a "head"? Thus we can see that even his name is code for his role as one of the leaders, or heads, of this blog. Also, how else could you explain how every year he departs for SBL with no papers ready, but by the time the plane lands he has 6 or 7 ready to present?? No single man could pull that off! QED. Now the only thing left is to identify the conspirators. I believe that carbon dating of his tie would show that "Peter Head" only started appearing on the internet after the retirement of the mysterious N.T. Wrong. Co-incidence?? I think not!

  6. Someone purporting to be Peter Head bought me a sandwich in Cambridge several years ago. Whether that person actually was Peter Head or not, the sandwich definitely was real.

    Regarding the conference, I am surprised no one is presenting on the "teeth will be provided" forgery that fooled the editors of CBQ 12 (1950) 439-49, mentioned by Metzger in his Reminiscences volume.

  7. There are enough forgeries for hundreds of conferences.

  8. "There are more forgeries in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

    ---Peter Head

  9. I had to reread the description for the 11:30 – 13:00 Friday session 2 times before I realized that 'Lied' was the professor's last name and not a verb.;).

  10. Tommy, are these papyri still available to study? In Manchester or Leeds or whereever they are?

  11. Yes Pete, and I am doing it together with a papyrologist.